Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Kindergarten Week 1

This is a picture of Gemma on what should have been her first day of kindergarten. I took it outside, in the late afternoon sunshine.

She spent the day playing. This is the part where I express gratitude that my husband is the stay-at-home parent, and that my husband and I have different personality types, and that my husband doesn't feel a need to keep our daughter busy because he knows she will busy herself.

After being in a classroom for eight hours, I was in need of some time outdoors. My husband went to run some errands, and Gemma and I walked down to a food truck lot and shared a grilled cheese and fries. Gemma, of course, had dessert first: a scoop of gourmet vanilla bean ice cream. It was horribly overpriced, but very good.

Gemma rolled around on the grass, stared at the sky, and ran around with other picnicking children. I made small talk with mothers. While the mothers were lovely, I really, really dislike small talk. The first day of school was the big topic of conversation. "We're homeschooling," I replied a few times, "but, yes, she's in kindergarten." To the question of "why," I said what I thought would end the inquiry, "She's a few years advanced in reading and math," and it did. I didn't want to get into a long explanation of my beliefs about education, or the public school system, or why we're on earth. I just wanted to be somewhere without a ceiling and eat food I didn't cook.
My John Muir Laws nature journaling book finally arrived!

I ordered it from a Barnes and Noble only 10 miles away, two weeks ago. It wasn't available on the B&N website, and the store within walking distance from me didn't have it in stock, so I purchased it from a store 10 miles away, over the phone, and had it shipped to me.

I could have had the book the same day, but I didn't want to sit in traffic for two hours. After waiting for the book 12 days, I realized that I'd made the mistake of not getting a tracking number, so I called B&N and asked if they could tell me where my book was.

The manager tracked it down. UPS had sent my book to a UPS hub in Jacksonville, Florida. The book had then traveled back this way, through Texas, to Los Angeles - where it had started - so it could go out for delivery to me in Santa Monica. If I were UPS, and I were looking to cut costs, because I would think that if I were a business I would always be looking to cut costs, it seems to me that I would want parcels to travel the fewest number of miles possible, for example: 10 instead of 6,000. But then again, I'm not UPS.

Another way UPS could have saved money is if they had just paid me to drive to Barnes & Noble myself, to pick up my own package.
Gemma thinks the John Muir Laws book is awesome. She was inspired to paint this dragonfly.

What else happened this week? We're still s-l-o-w-l-y reading Prince Caspian and Little House in the Big Woods. We're working our way through Training Hearts. In piano, she practiced "Boogie Woogie Beat," which introduced sharps. In Cherub Choir, the little ones are learning "Only You," which they'll sing on "Kick-off Sunday." She did at least one Duolingo lesson, and read some Jewel Thieves. We're on chapter 8 of Life of Fred: Goldfish; she begged me to read 3 of those chapters in one sitting, while she swam in the bathtub. She watched a video about how pretzels are made and learned half of the U.S. Presidents song. And Daddy took her to play at the beach.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Week in Review: It's Real Now

This week, Gemma finished Life of Fred: Farming. She spent about a week on the last two pages (25 addition problems, multi-digit with regrouping), not because she couldn't do them, but because she didn't want to do them. We started Life of Fred: Goldfish, which I would place at 3rd grade.

I started back to work on Monday. It was a pupil-free day, with a big staff meeting and time to get our rooms ready. As we found our seats for the meeting, the kindergarten teacher, who I think is wonderful and who knows we are homeschooling, said playfully, "So I guess I'm not getting your daughter tomorrow." I smiled and said no.

Santa Monica's schools start tomorrow, and several of Gemma's friends are starting kindergarten or transitional kindergarten. She should be starting with them. But my child isn't going to school. It's real now.

So, while some homeschoolers have planned kindergarten curricula, I'm not planning anything. We're just going to do the next thing.

Some of the next things are Life of Fred: Goldfish, working through the rest of Alfred piano prep level B, finishing Prince Caspian, continuing Duolingo Spanish, having her read the rest of her Jewel Thieves book to me, etc.

One of the (many) DVDs she watched this week was an animated movie about Beethoven (from NEST). She liked it because it had "Ode to Joy," a melody she knows how to play on piano. The song is also on one of her VBS CDs, so we sometimes sing it in the car. I thought the movie was done well, and I'm going to see what other NEST animated biographies our library has.

One day this week, she and Daddy went bike riding at the beach, and another day, he took her to play in the sand with friends.

I'm glad that her classroom doesn't have walls.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Week in Review: Tide Pools, Splash Pads, and Swimming Pools

Some of the things we did this week (my last week of vacation before returning to my full-time teaching job):

We went to the Leo Carrillo tide pools. We met up with our home(pre)school co-op and the kids played happily for four hours.
We missed low tide (7 a.m.), but one of the kids was able to find this crab who had taken up residence in a worm snail's shell.
Here are some of the other items I found...
I'm pretty sure the brown ridged shell is a cowrie, but I couldn't find one online that looked just like it. The shell in the lower right is from a sea urchin.

I also found a very pretty rock, a limpet shell, and a piece of sea glass.
Gemma did some rock climbing...
...and some rock carrying.
Another day, we met up with our Classical Conversations community to play at a splash pad.
Gemma finished reading Who Is Stealing the 12 Days of Christmas? by Martha Freeman. 

She practiced piano, and went to dance class.

She has 17 problems at the end to finish, and then she will have completed Life of Fred: Farming. While she's looking forward to Fred Goldfish, she's in no hurry to do these.

We went to the library, the bookstore (to order a copy of John Muir Laws' beautiful nature journaling book with a gift card I won last summer from the library), and to my classroom so my wonderful husband could get all of my boxes down off my cabinets (while it took me four hours to put them up there, he was able to get them down in 15 minutes).

We ended the week with Family Fun Day at the community college's pool, four hours of swimming, playing water polo, eating sno-cones, and wibit rafting.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Backseat Driver

5 YEAR OLD: Mom, you should speed up and go around that car.

MOM: I've been driving for 20 years. How long have you been driving?

5 YEAR OLD: Well, I haven't been driving very long...

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Week in Review: In Which Mommy Escapes for Mother Culture at the Hollywood Bowl, and Daddy Teaches Gemma How to Spit on a Tire

We're currently on:
  • chapter 17 of Life of Fred: Farming
  • chapter 10 of Prince Caspian
  • question 6 in Training Hearts, Teaching Minds
  • "Little Things" in piano
  • chapter 24 of Who is Stealing the 12 Days of Christmas (the book Gemma is reading aloud to me)
Some of the things we did this week...

Sunday, we went bowling after church.
My husband's band needed to test out their equipment before an outdoor gig. Gemma helped.
I taught a three-day Trigonometry Camp. While I worked my dream job (only 10 students! not 1 but 2 helpers! students all got along with each other! challenging material! enthusiastic learners! happy parents! I got to have an hour lunch with my family!), Pete attended Classical Conversations Practicum and tutor training for Foundations, and Gemma got to go to play camp.
My friend Anita treated me to an amazing evening at the Hollywood Bowl. It was Gustavo Dudamel conducting the L.A. Philharmonic playing Tchaikovsky. Prior to this, I had only been to the Bowl once, and I had never seen Dudamel. He's not stiff and serious; he smiles and conducts with his whole body. During the selections from Swan Lake, dancers from the American Ballet Theatre performed, and the finale - 1812 Overture - was accompanied by fireworks. It was spectacular.
Did you know that Tchaikovsky actually hated 1812 Overture? He called it "very loud and noisy and completely without artistic merit, obviously written without warmth or love."

Tuesday evening was National Night Out. In the past, our community has had a big to-do in the city's civic center parking lot. This year, they split the Night Out into four locations. I'm just going to say that I thought the way they used to do it was better, and leave it at that. Gemma had fun playing with bubbles and dancing to the '80s cover band.
We went to Romeo and Juliet at Theatricum Botanicum. (Earlier this summer, we tried to see it, but the Calabasas fire caused the theatre to evacuate. In preparation for that experience, I had shown Gemma a cartoon version of Romeo and Juliet. Her summary of the cartoon: "In the first half, they're not dead. But in the second half, they're dead.")
I captured some of the handiwork lessons my husband taught Gemma. He taught her how to air up a bike tire...
...and spit on it to find its leak, 
how to sort automotive electrical components,
and how to test a fuse block for continuity...